Visitors to SF Pride feel welcomed in Castro
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Pride weekend is a celebration that brings people from all over the country and world to San Francisco.
It draws a diverse crowd and that's the name of this year's celebration: A Celebration of Diversity.
On Friday night, the celebration was just getting started in the Castro. The younger people are jubilant while the older folks are reflective.
"There's pride flags everywhere. It's obvious I'm welcome here," says Izaak Baker of San Francisco.
People are coming to San Francisco from around the Bay Area, out of state and beyond to find a sense of community they can't find elsewhere.
"It's insane. There's rainbow everywhere. We don't have this on the East Coast," says Akira Johnston, a college student who's visiting from Virginia.
"I'm celebrating that people worked super hard that I can do this now. It was on the backs of people who looked like me when it was less acceptable to have something like this," says Baker, a software engineer.
Here, members of the LGBT community can be themselves and display their pride.
A man walks up to 22-year-old Jessica Babbitt who dyed her hair in rainbow colors for Pride weekend and tells her she has the best hair in the city.
Babbit tells KTVU she arrived in San Francisco Friday afternoon from Nevada for her first Pride weekend.
When asked if this visit was something she had wanted to do for a long time, she replied, "Yeah, it wasn't really acceptable in my hometown community when I came out in the 6th grade. Everyone stopped being my friend."
Pride brings business to the Castro. For many merchants, it's the busiest weekend of the year.
Disco music played at QBar. It offers nostalgia to go with the history of neighborhood gay bars...popular meeting places of the past and present.
"In bars, people start talking freely. They start exchanging ideas," says Cip Cipriano, general manager of QBar.
After bars close, Orphan Andy's, a 24-hour restaurant, is often the place to be.
It's been a fixture near the intersection of Market and Castro for 40 years. Pride weekend is lucrative.
"People are dancing. A lot of people know each other. People are shouting across the table," says Aaron Shen with Orphan Andy's.
At Civic Center Plaza, the stage is set for the big Pride party on Saturday and Sunday. Crews tell us they spent all day preparing. There will be inspirational speakers and performers. Pride is taking center stage in San Francisco.
"We've earned the right to celebrate a lot of things. We can legally get married. We have a lot of rights but we have to be ever vigilant," says Cipriano.
People in the Castro tell KTVU they're celebrating while remembering the long hard journey that it took to get here.